Roughly 45,000 people are expected to converge on the Twin Cities for the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center on the first four days of September. This tally includes just over 4,500 delegates and alternate delegates, approximately 15,000 media members and other invited guests. Of course there will also be thousands of uninvited guests gathering at various locations around the Twin Cities to mark the occasion of John McCain’s nomination in their own chosen manner.
The opening day of the convention, in particular, promises to be a logistical nightmare. There will be a parade sponsored by the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War proceeding from the Capitol to Xcel center, which organizers expect to draw in excess of 50,000 people. Meanwhile on Harriet Island, the Service Employees International Union will be hosting a huge Labor Day rally. Separate anti-RNC gatherings are slated for Triangle Park, Hamm’s Plaza, Mears Park and Ecolab Plaza, while Republicans will undoubtedly get a more sympathetic hearing from a downtown event being organized by Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission.
Probably the best advice is to get the hell out of town. But if that’s not an option, here’s the skinny on what to expect when the GOP comes to town.
How many cops will be patrolling the streets?
Approximately 3,000. According to an affidavit provided in an RNC-related lawsuit by Matt Bostrom, who is charged with overseeing security issues for the St. Paul Police Department (SPPD), roughly 600 local cops will be supplemented by an additional 2,500 officers from numerous federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies.
Exactly how many local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies will be involved?
The exact number is still uncertain, according to SPPD spokesman Tom Walsh. St. Paul is in the process of working out “joint powers agreements” with the various agencies. But in addition to cops from St. Paul and Minneapolis, there will be agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Secret Service (a division of the Treasury Department), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officers, Minnesota State Patrol officers, and cops from surrounding cities and counties.
Will there be any private contractors working on security issues?
Walsh says no, and what’s more he’s offended by the question: “To even remotely suggest or infer that we would involve ourselves with organizations that we can’t supervise is irresponsible.”
Will there be temporary holding holding pens set up to detain protesters — as was done in New York four years ago?
Despite suspicions that Rice Park or Aldrich Arena are being reserved for detainees, the SPPD says it has no plans to use temporary holding facilities. The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the county jail and would assume responsibility for people once they’ve been arrested, is mum on its plans. “They’re working on the detention plan right now and at this points it’s not public information,” says spokeswoman Holli Drinkwine.
How much federal money has been allocated to pay for security measures?
How is this money being spent?
According to Walsh, roughly $33 million of those funds will be spent on personnel. If that number turns out to be accurate, it leaves $17 million for hardware purchases. (City officials in Denver have stated that approximately half of its allocation will go towards equipment purchases.) However, the exact budget is not yet publicly available. St. Paul is the fiscal agent, but the U.S. Department of Justice is required to sign off on the expenditures and has not yet done so. According to Erin Dady, director of marketing and convention planning for the City of St. Paul, the budget is expected to come before the city council in the next few weeks.
What policing devices or technologies are being purchased for the RNC with that money?
“We’re not going to share that until the document is public,” says Walsh.
Who is ultimately in charge of security?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated the convention a “National Special Security Event,” which means the United States Secret Service heads up security planning.
How many hotel rooms are being booked for convention attendees?
Roughly 16,000 at more than 100 hotels across the Twin Cities.
How many buses will be used to transport delegates and media members to and from the convention each day?
How many people are employed locally by the Republican National Convention?
Currently there are about 80 people in the Twin Cities working on the convention, according to the RNC. That number is expected to grow to more than 120 by September.
What is the anticipated economic impact of hosting the convention?
According to an analysis by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the RNC will produce $148 million in additional spending, create 2,800 temporary jobs and generate $100 million in wages.
How much money is being spent to produce the convention?
Congress has allocated $16.3 million each for the Republican and Democratic festivities. In addition to those federal funds, the nonprofit organization set up to raise money for the convention expects to bring in $58 million, primarily from corporate donors.
How many balloons will be dropped to mark the official designation of John McCain as the GOP nominee?
The exact number is uncertain at present, but four years ago 100,000 (biodegradable!) balloons were dropped to herald the official start of President Bush’s re-election campaign.